Monday, December 14, 2009

My Feelings on Christmas

I don't particularly like this time of year. I could even be called a "Grinch" by some, though I don't think I am. I've got a good explanation as to why I don't like this time of year, and I hope you all bear with me while I get into it.

My birthday is a week before Christmas (and my brother's is December 3rd). I hate this fact, because it makes for a very busy December, and I get overwhelmed when I'm too busy. Why can't my birthday be any other time of the year, so that the celebrations are more spread out? Celebrating my birthday is tough for me as well, for the same reasons I'm about to get into.

When I was in high school, I was really depressed. I don't like to get into details, especially in a public setting such as this, but I'm fine now in that department. But the holidays are tough when you're depressed. Imagine having to pretend even harder that things are "okay", not just okay but "awesome" for a whole month? It was always tough for me to do. I wondered why the Christmas "magic" didn't hit me the same way it hit me when I was a kid. I was also an insomniac back then, and I remember one very early Christmas morning where I sat in front of the computer listening to "Happy Christmas (War is Over) " by John Lennon (my favourite Christmas tune) and U2's "Window in the Skies" on repeat because I couldn't sleep and for some reason the voices of Lennon and Bono cheered me up.

Then the December before last and last December were still a little rough. Both times I was dealing with boy issues and obviously such things put a damper in the holiday season. Last Christmas I loved someone very much who I saw for the first time in several months on my birthday. We had decided over the summer to continue whatever our relationship was when he came back to the city in December, but he showed up to my party and made it clear he wasn't interested. It became very clear when he refused to kiss me at the end of the night. I went home, from my own birthday party that night, and cried all night. I had to pretend everything was okay a few days later because it was my friend's party, but after going home the next day, I spent it moping, and had to be pulled out of the house by friends to celebrate our own version of Christmas. But I basically spent all the days leading up to Christmas crying every minute of the day, until I saw this individual and we actually talked about it and he told me he wasn't interested. It still broke my heart, but I'd done so much crying by that point I accepted the time anyway.

Christmas Eve last year was okay because we went to see family. I still spent a lot of time there hoping I'd feel my phone vibrate and that it would be him, deciding he wanted to see me. Christmas Day was also a nice day, but it was all the same thing. My mind was preoccupied by someone who I have long realized wasn't worthy of more than a second thought.

So why do I still dislike Christmas? I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me dearly and treats me like gold, the best friends on the planet, and an amazing family. Surely I should be out there carolling, and wearing tinsel wrapped around my head? But I can't. The magic has been ruined. I know there's never a good time to hurt, but I think Christmas is the worst time of year to be depressed or get your heart broken. And I've experience two heartbreaks over Christmas, and several years of really terrible sadness before that. I think I stay unenthusiastic over this time of year in order to protect myself. If I'm not excited, I can't be disappointed when it goes wrong. But I think that tactic is a bad one because I think it will be a good Christmas, because things are all set up to go RIGHT and not go wrong. But it's hard to let down that wall, and I've actually been a little sad these past few days, because my birthday and Christmas are coming up, and the painful memories have been rushing back. My birthday party is actually going to be on my birthday again this year, and I'm worried I'll be sad, because of all that happened last year. But I've got great friends coming, and Kirk will be coming so it should go well. :) Maybe then the Christmas spirit will come out.

But right now, I've got John Lennon on repeat, and that's about as full of Christmas spirit as I can get. It's just fine for right now. We put up the decorations earlier this week. I got told by my Mom a few weeks back that I "better not turn into my Dad" (who hates putting up decorations until about December 13th), because I said that Christmas decorations should not be put up until at least December 10th. But I think I've already become my Dad in that regard, like Father, like daughter in yet another way. I don't think he's one to get super enthusiastic about Christmas, but my Mom is. She gets so disappointed on Christmas morning because my brother and I don't react with the glee we used to when we open our gifts. I'm appreciative of course, but very...stoic. I like Christmas dinner, because the food is delicious, and it's just time spent with my family, which is always nice. We usually watch a movie in the evening as well, which doesn't happen often enough.

If you all see me running through malls dressed as an elf, you will know that either I've embraced the Christmas spirit, or I've gone mad. Happy Holidays!

Oh, and to keep it somewhat on topic, what's your favourite Christmas special? And your favourite Christmas movie? For me, I always liked Christopher Christmas Tree as a kid. As for movies, depends on what counts as a Christmas movie. Edward Scissorhands, my favourite movie, takes place during Christmas, but I don't really count it. I do count Love Actually, so I can say that one is probably my favourite. I also enjoy It's a Wonderful Life, and Elf. And while we're at it, favourite Christmas tune?


  1. I was going to write a blog post on this very topic! Maybe I still will.

    At this time of year, I can't take my mind off some of the bad Christmas memories I've had - which is just a fact of life when you reach a certain age.

    Since the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, I've always felt that Christmas is as about those who "don't have" as those who do. The problem is that they are often left out in the cold (sometimes literally) at this time of year.

    Is our happiness at this time of year at the expense of others?

  2. You still should!

    I've found lately that all the bad memories have come back this time of year, particularly after we put the tree up. I hate decorating the tree, because for whatever reason it really upsets me--so I'm glad my parents did it when I was out.

    I also think about the less fortunate, and try to be more charitable this time of year. If a deserving family can have a nice Christmas dinner and give toys to their kids, I feel a little better about the holidays. I don't think people need as much as many material goods as they often get. Buy just one fewer gift for each person, and spend that money on a hamper or another charity and spread the love. Because Christmas is about giving, I think not just to loved ones, but people who are not as fortunate as you are...

  3. I think I like Christmas so much because it reminds us to appreciate the people in our lives. I mean, we may not take our important people for granted, but we likely don't tell them often enough how much we appreciate them, either. During the holiday season we have a ready-made excuse to thank someone for the role they play in our life, without their feeling uncomfortable about how to take the praise.

    I hope you have a great Christmas, Jennifer - and can make this the year that you start building the "positives" side of your Christmas balance sheet. :O)

  4. I do agree with that Melanie, because you don't often enough tell someone that you love them, especially the closest people to us. Christmas is the only time I tell my parents and brother that I love them--through the cards I give and the like. I hope they know through action that I love them, but it's always been hard for us to say to each other.

    I'm hoping for a great Christmas too. And if not great, at least no heartbreak or big disasters. :) I hope you have a great Christmas as well Melanie (you too Kenton)!

  5. I gave up on the fake smiles and everything-is-fine expectations at Christmas a long time ago. I ditched the whole happy holiday thing and simply observe from a distance now. Read my second last blog posting if you want.

    Kenton mentioned the Charlie Brown Christmas, and that's my favourite Christmas special...I wait for the part when Linus quotes the Bible on stage and then says "that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown". At least SOMEBODY gets it, albeit a cartoon child from over 40 years ago.

    And don't worry about turning into your parents. It's simply environmental influence. Although I've come to realize I'm nothing more than the gay version of my father.

  6. I'll definitely go and read your post John. :) I've become my Father, and I don't think it's a bad thing, but I know some parts of it bother my this whole Christmas thing. She's really into it, and I try to be, but I just can't bring up the enthusiasm anymore.